Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

Message On Hold Script Tips - 10 Commonly Misused Words

10 Commonly misued wordsBecause language is a fluid, living thing, it can be easy to use the wrong word here and there. Often, we will colloquially and conventionally use a certain word, like towards, which is technically incorrect. Other times, antiquated words manage to slip into our vocabulary, but they make very little sense at all.

When you’re writing a script for Messages On Hold, IVR announcements, eLearning programs, Voicemail Messages, or any other audio marketing application, it’s important to sound informed and professional. If you’re using the wrong words, people will doubt the validity of your business, brand, or product. Here are just a few troublesome words you’ll want to look out for:

  • Irregardless-Many people will use “irregardless,” for emphasis, instead of using “regardless.” While this has become common practice, “irregardless” has not been officially adopted, in references books, as a “word,” and should be avoided. If you don’t want to use regardless, try “irrespective.”
  • Towards- Like irregardless, it’s not technically a word. Avoid it by using “toward,” which is correct.
  • Nonplussed-people often use “nonplussed” when they want to say something or someway was easy or calm, but the word really means completely bewildered. For example, “Sally could never remember the rule for choosing who or whom. She was completely nonplussed by difficult grammatical situations.”
  • Fewer vs. Less- Use “fewer” for things you can count, like jelly beans. Use “less” for things you can’t count, like courage.
  • Comprise vs. Compose- These two words are commonly confused because they often go together: the whole comprises the parts and the parts compose the whole. If you are talking about a 9 member committee, for example,  You would say “The committee comprises 9 members” or “Nine members compose the committee.”
  • Who vs. Whom- Who and Whom are particularly difficult to get sorted out. “Who” is a sentence subject, while “Whom” is an object. If you’re writing, and you’re not sure, replace “Who” with “He” and “Whom” with “Him.” If your sentence is correct with “he,” then “who” is the correct option. If not, use “whom.”
  • Expedient vs. Expeditious. If you're going to be talking about speed, make sure you make the right choice. "Expedient" means doing something quickly, but carries the negative connotation of doing things improperly. If you are doing something "expeditiously," you are doing it efficiently, without a negative connotation.
  • There's and Where's  are not technically incorrect, because they are contractions of "There is" or "Where is." The problem with these contractions is that things can go south pretty quickly. You might say, "There's many kinds of cell phones," but the sentence should be "There are many kinds of cell phones."  When in doubt, take out the contraction and see if it still makes sense.
  • E.g. vs. i.e.- these abbreviations have similar meanings, but are different. E.g. comes from the latin exempli gratia and should be used when one, or a few, examples out of many are being given. I.e. stands for id est, meaning "that is" and should be used when there is only one specific example. You can say, "He loved milkshakes that were chocolate-based (e.g. peanutbutter cup, rocky road, brownie batter), but she only liked the traditional--i.e. chocolate."

Of course, there’s another word that you’ll want to specifically avoid for your call processing: dial. It might still be somewhat common to say you “Dialed a phone number” or to ask callers to “Dial 0 for the operator,” but the term is quickly fading and becoming incorrect. Think about it—when was the last time you dialed a phone. It’s more likely you pressed buttons—so instruct your callers to “Press 0 at any time to speak to the operator.” With the popularity of touch screen smartphones, you might even want to use enter.

Sounding professional starts with choosing the right words. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out our copywriting services for your audio marketing scripts.

Tags: message on hold, marketing, tips